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Fama Fraternitatis and Rosenkreuz

The Rosicrucian Masonic Metaphysics and Handbook - Order of The Rosy Cross Temple and The Loge de Parfait 1764

The Manifesto of The American Rosicrucian Order - ARO

The Fama Fraternitatis Rosae Crucis (Fama fraternitatis Roseae Crucis oder Die Bruderschaft des Ordens der Rosenkreuzer), or simply the Fama Fraternitatis, is an anonymous Rosicrucian manifesto published in 1614[1] in Kassel (Germany). It was translated into English in 1652 by Thomas Vaughan. It was published as an appendix of the 77th. Advertisement (section) intitled Generale Riforma dell' Universo (The Universal Reformation of Mankind) of a German translation of Bocallini's satira Ragguagli di Parnasso (Advertisements from Parnassus). The Fama which created a profound effect was soon published in separate form.

The Legend

The Fama tells the story of the "Father C.R." (later on C.R.C., the mythical Alchemist Christian Rosenkreuz), his ill-fated pilgrimage to Jerusalem; his subsequent tutelage by the secret sages of the east, the wise men of Damcar in Arabia, from whom he learned the ancient esoteric knowledge which included the study of physics, mathematics, magic and kabbalah; his return through Egypt and Fes and his presence among the alumbrados in Spain. It is thought in occultism that Rosenkreuz's pilgrimage seems to refer to transmutation steps of the Great Work.

After his arrival to Germany, Father C.R. and other Brothers established an esoteric Christian Fraternity: "The Fraternity of the Rose Cross". The Brothers of the Fraternity were sent in mission throughout the world, having as their first priority to use their knowledge to "cure the sick" in a free of charge way "that gratis", not wearing any special clothing, and met once each year in the mysterious "House of the Holy Spirit".

The Legend shows an agreement with six articles that they drew up Prior to their separation, bounding themselves one to another to keep:

  1. That none of them should profess any other thing than to cure the sick, and that gratis. 
  2. None of the posterity should be constrained to wear one kind of habit, but to follow the custom of the country. 
  3. Every year, upon the day C., they would meet together at the house Santi Spiritus, or write the cause of their absence. 
  4. Every Brother should seek a worthy person to succeed him after his death. 
  5. The word CR should be their seal, mark, and character. 
  6. The Fraternity should remain secret one hundred years. 

List of names in the Legend

The Legend presented in the Manifestos has been interpreted through centuries as texts full of symbolism. Rosicrucians clearly adopted through the Manifestos the Pythagorean tradition of envisioning objects and ideas in terms of their numeric aspects, and, on the other hand, they directly state in the Confessio Fraternitatis, "We speak unto you by parables, but would willingly bring you to the right, simple, easy and ingenuous exposition, understanding, declaration, and knowledge of all secrets."

In the narrative

  • C.R. 
  1. I. A. 
  2. G.V. 
  3. R.C. (C.R.C.'s deceased father's brother's son): (see also description in the vault below). 
  4. B. (a skillful painter) 
  5. I.O. (P.A. was his successor) 
  6. P.D. (A. was his successor, and N.N. was in turn A's successor) 
  7. R. (successor to C.R.C.) 
  8. G.G. 

The sentence "C.R.C.'s deceased father's brother's son" has always been a deeply enigmatic one. There is the possibility that it may refer to the rebirth process, a central tenet teaching of groups having, or claiming to have, a Rosicrucian philosophy. This would imply that "Father C.R.", possibly of the 13th/14th century, would have been reborn to "R.C.", becoming the 14th/15th century C.R.C. in the Manifestos. This appears to confirm what several later sources wrote about the Rosicrucian movement:

  • According to the Anthroposophy founder Rudolf Steiner, the Mystery of the foundation of the Rosicrucian Order in the early 14th century relates to the birth of Christian Rosenkreuz in the 13th century, and his later rebirth in the 14th century. 
  • According to Maurice Magre, in Magicians, Seers, and Mystics, derived from local oral tradition, Christian Rosenkreuz was the last descendant of the Germelschausen, a German family which flourished in the 13th century. Their Castle stood in the Thuringian Forest on the Border of Hesse and they had embraced Albigense's doctrines, combining pagan superstitions and Christian beliefs. 
  • According to the Rosicrucian Initiate Max Heindel, the foundation of the Order of the Rose Cross occurred in 1313, early 14th century. 
  • According to Mason Albert Pike, and later metaphysician René Guénon and the scholar Manly Palmer Hall, the "Adepts of the Rose-Croix" are for the first time expounded in Dante's The Divine Comedy (1308-1321). 

In C.R.C.'s vault

  1. Fra. I.A. Fra. Ch. electione Fraternitatis caput. [elected head of Fraternity]: possibly Iohann Andreae (1586-1654)?  
  2. Fra. G.V. M.P.G. 
  3. Fra. F.R.C. Junior haeres S. Spiritus [younger heir of the house of the holy spirit]: 
  4. Fra. F.B. M.P.A. Pictor et Architectus [painter and architect]: possibly Francis Bacon (1561-1626)?  

"Secundi Circuli"

  1. Fra. P.A. Successor to Fra. I.O., Mathematicus 
  2. Fra. A. Successor to Fra. P.D. 
  3. Fra. R. Successor to Patris C.R.C., cum Christo Triumphantis [with Christ Triumphant] 

The enigmatic "Fra. F.R.C." in the vault (the "R.C." in the narrative, see above) is mentioned as "heir"; this statement "younger heir of the house of the holy spirit" seems to provide evidence of the intimate relation to "Father C.R.", possibly meaning "Father R.C." [forming the C.R.C. initials]:

  • The poet Fernando Pessoa - known defender of Masonic and Rosicrucian ideals and possible Rosicrucian Initiate, as he states "Initiated from Master to Disciple in the three minor degrees of the (apparently extinct) Portuguese Templar Order" (Rosicrucians seem to have had a deep presence in Portugal, intermixed with Templar tradition, and with evidence in monuments and literature, from medieavel times into the 20th century) - wrote an hermetic poem titled " No Túmulo de Christian Rosenkreutz" [In the Tomb of C.R.C], which states in the final line/verse: "Our Father Rose-n-c[k]reuz [Rosaecruz] knows and keeps silent", which may attribute the whole key to the understanding of the "Fama" to the enigmatic character described as "R.C." or "F.R.C". 
  • The sentence "cum Christo Triumphantis" [with Christ Triumphant] may imply that the central meaning of the "Fama" is to give account of the final achievement into the "Great Work" (the Philosopher's Stone of the alchemists, or the Holy Grail of the Templars) by C.R.C., Christian Rosenkreuz. This seems to describe that the symbolism of the unification of the "Rose" and the "Cross" (Christian Rose Cross), in the Legend, implies the existence of a Christic state (Christ, the Light of the World), which includes liberation from the cycle of births and deaths, comparable and higher than the Buddhic state (Buddha, the Light of Asia) described in the eastern sacred literature. This "Christic" process and state is pointed by major occultists as being described in some major western literary works as the 14th century The Divine Comedy[2] or the 16th century The Lusiads,[3] and, it is also, to some extent, explained in the Rosicrucian literature known as Western Wisdom Teachings. 

According to Émile Dantinne (1884–1969), the origins of the Rosicrucians may have an Islamic connection. Rosenkreuz started his pilgrimage at the age of sixteen. This led him to Arabia, Egypt, and Morocco, where he came into contact with sages of the East who revealed to him the "universal harmonic science." After learning Arabic philosophy in Jerusalem, he was led to Damcar. This place remains a mystery—it did not become Damascus but is somewhere not too far from Jerusalem. Then he stopped briefly in Egypt. Soon afterwards, he embarked to Fes, a center of philosophical and occult studies, such as the alchemy of Abu-Abdallah, Gabir ben Hayan, and Imam Jafar al Sadiq, the astrology and magic of Ali-ash-Shabramallishi, and the esoteric science of Abdarrahman ben Abdallah al Iskari. However, Dantinne states that Rosenkreuz may have found his secrets amongst the Brethren of Purity, a society of philosophers that had formed in Basra (Iraq) sometime during the 900s. Their doctrine had its source in the study of the ancient Greek philosophers, but it became more neo-Pythagorean. They adopted the Pythagorean tradition of envisioning objects and ideas in terms of their numeric aspects. Their theurgy and esoteric knowledge is expounded in an epistolary style in the Encyclopedia of the Brethren of Purity.

The Brethren of Purity and the Sufis were united in many points of doctrine. They both were mystical orders deriving from Qur'anic theology but supplanting dogma with a faith in the Divine Reality. There were many similarities between the Rosicrucian way as expressed in the manifestos and the way of life of the Brethren of Purity. Neither group wore special clothing, both practiced abstinence, they healed the sick, and they offered their teachings free of charge. Similarities also were evident in the doctrinal elements of their theurgy and the story of creation in terms of emanationism.

Notes and references

  1. ^ It is generally assumed, among researchers, that the Fama may have been in circulation ca. 1610 since a reply to the Fama had already been printed in 1612 by Adam Haselmayer who had seen a manuscript copy of the Fama in Tyrol in 1610. In 1612 "De Ragguagli di Parnasso [Advertisements from Parnassus]" was published in Venice and Trajano Boccalini, listed as author of the "Generale Riforma dell' Universo" (77th. Advertisement), had died in 1613. Manly Palmer Hall refers that the author of the 77th Advertisement may have been Francis Bacon. 
  2. ^ Dante Alighieri in "The Divine Comedy: 3rd Cantica, Canto XXXI": «In fashion then as of a snow-white rose / Displayed itself to me the saintly host, / Whom Christ in his own blood had made his bride,»  
  3. ^ Camoens in "The Lusiads: Canto X": «Makes you reward, baron, the Sapience / Supreme of, with the corporal eyes, / see what can not the vain science / of the wrong and miserable mortals» 

See also